Because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do, we are all purified from sin by the offering that he made of his own body once and for all.
Every Jewish priest performs his services every day and offers the same sacrifices many times; but these sacrifices can never take away sins. Christ, however, offered one sacrifice for sins, an offering that is effective forever, and then he sat down at the right side of God. There he now waits until God puts his enemies as a footstool under his feet. With one sacrifice, then, he has made perfect forever those who are purified from sin.
And the Holy Spirit also gives us his witness. First he says,
“This is the covenant that I will make with them
in the days to come, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts
and write them on their minds.”
And then he says, “I will not remember their sins and evil deeds any longer.”So, when these have been forgiven, an offering to take away sins is no longer needed. (Good News Translation)
As I sit at my computer, easily keyboarding my thoughts, it is almost inconceivable to me that I made it through my undergraduate college days in the early 1980s with a manual typewriter and notetaking with the old-fashioned pen and spiral notebook. No cell phone, no tablet, no electronic devices aiding me through my education. Typewriters are now obsolete, along with corded dial telephones and wringer washers.
Yet even more incredible is the complete replacement of an old mundane system of ritual sacrifice to a religion of the heart in which God remembers the people’s sins no more. This is such a radical change that it would be like having self-cleaning dishes or total speech-to-text “writing” of “papers.”
The new order of things described in Hebrews is so much more than a labor-saving device; it is a completely different system that leaves the old system obsolete forever. That is what Jesus Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice did on our behalf.
We live in a New Covenant era in which God has put divine laws on our hearts and written them on our minds. No typewriter, no computer, no keyboard necessary, because the blood of Christ has introduced a seminal change in how we relate to God.
There is now a thorough forgiveness that no longer requires any labor, ritual, or work. Indeed, it is finished. Now, we have the privilege and opportunity of living into the new reality graciously provided for us. It is an era of great peace, joy, and goodwill. It is so good that it would be absolutely ridiculous to go back to the old way.
So, slow down enough in this season to connect or re-connect with a most wonderful truth: Jesus Christ came to save sinners. Gratitude for our salvation from sin, death, and hell, recognized and acknowledged each day, helps to stave off living in the past.
Continually looking at a bygone era as the good old days probably wasn’t, in reality, near as great as it’s remembered. That’s because when things are hard in the present, we often reflexively retreat into the past, cherry-picking some good memories, then constructing a mental narrative without all the bad stuff which actually went along with it.
Instead, in this Advent season, Christians purposely focus upon and remember God’s merciful descent to live among humanity. Christ lived, died, rose from death, and is alive – interceding for us continually. Past and present come together in the person of Jesus.
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish. (John 1:14, MSG)
The good news of Christianity is that we are gloriously forgiven and redeemed because of Christ, given for us, the once for all sacrifice for sin.
May this season be full of grace and wonder for you, as you pilgrim to the manger and adore Christ the newborn king.
Saving God, you have completely taken care of the sin issue once and for all through the blood of your Son. Forgive me for my predilection to retreat into old obsolete ways of trying to earn peace and joy, instead of adopting the new, which sometimes seems almost too good to be true. Thank you for deliverance and new life in Jesus Christ. Amen.